Gone Fishin' : Fathers, sons and daughters find a bond in fishing
On Sunday morning I was the master of ceremonies for the Rod and Gun Club striped bass catch and release tournament. It is a responsibility I took on 17 years ago, not thinking it would be a perpetual appointment.
The truth is while it is a lot of work it is also an awful lot of fun. It is also personally rewarding.
The tournament is built around fishing camaraderie, not competition. Many of the fishermen have been participating for years and the breakfast conversation that precedes the awards ceremony held in the high school cafeteria echoes longstanding friendships and family bonds.
On Sunday I presented a new fly rod and reel to Christopher Johns, 15, a high school sophomore from Foxboro. Chris was part of a team that included his dad, Michael Johns, and grandfather, Norris Johns, a seasonal Chappy resident and accomplished bass and bluefish Derby fisherman.
There were numerous other family teams. The opportunity to fish together on Martha's Vineyard provided them with memories that will endure, and not because of the size or quantity of the fish that were caught.
Sunday is Father's Day. Any day is father's day when you go fishing with your dad. In honor of father's day I asked readers to share their memories and thoughts on the subject.
Keith McArt of Somerville said his family had rented in East Chop every summer since he was born. His parents live in Rowayton, Conn., but own a house on Monroe Ave. in East Chop they bought 11 years ago and where they spend much of the summer. He responded with the following email.
A joy to share
My dad Roger McArt grew up fishing the lakes in Canada while at summer camp. He apparently caught a monster trout one year which ended up on the camp postcard, but surprisingly he has been unable to produce said postcard. While his childhood interest in fishing didn't follow him into his adult life, I don't believe he ever really lost his enjoyment of it.
My early fishing knowledge came from my grandmother. She taught me the basic knots, etc. I didn't discover my real passion for fishing though until about ten years ago.
It has been my great joy to be able to reintroduce my father to fishing, and to share with him what I have learned about surfcasting and Vineyard fishing.
My father has taught me a lot over the years. The most important lessons he taught me by example, such as honesty, integrity, and how to treat people decently and fairly. There isn't much I've been able to teach my father. My father and I have always clammed together. It has been a father-son tradition going back to my childhood. Since they bought the house, we've graduated to scalloping (some very tough lessons in the beginning). Fishing is a pastime we've only recently begun to share together.
Surf fishing on the Vineyard has given me the opportunity to give something back and has provided for some great father-son memories. My father's first nighttime outing for stripers last year was a highlight.
I can't wait to take my father fishing this summer.
Ed Casey, a 2000 regional high school graduate and son of Ned Casey of Edgartown, sent the following story.
I have many fond memories fishing with my dad. But if I had to pick one that stood out it would be when I was about 11 years old.
We were out fishing for stripers at Lobsterville. The fishing was okay but about 1 am I got tired. So I went back to my dad's truck and took a nap thinking we'd go home soon. Well, I woke up and it was 4 am and we were still there. So I went down to the beach and the fishermen were catching stripers left and right.
My night ended when I hooked a very large striper that came to the shore only to dart off again. I heard a snap and I had no line left on my reel. I'll never forget that night ever.
A distant appreciation
On June 3, I received an email from Ed Butor of Pittsburgh Penn. He had just returned home following his annual family and fishing vacation to the Vineyard. Ed is a regular fan of this column and provided me with a detailed report.
Sometimes it is healthy for Vineyarders to look at fishing on the Island through a visitor's eyes.
This is an edited version (I removed all the fishing tips) of his email:
I'm happy to report that we just concluded our week on the Vineyard and boy was it great. The weather, location, food and fishing were fantastic. It's hard to write this sitting at my desk in downtown Pittsburgh, but at least I have a picture of Vineyard Haven Harbor on the wall.
We stayed in Chilmark on Chilmark Pond and canoed and kayaked to Lucy Vincent beach. As is my custom, every morning I was up at 5:30 am to try my luck. I had a plan to change locations each day. When you live 600 miles from an ocean, you plan these moments all year.
Our grown children were with us. On the second day my son Rick and I arrived at Menemsha Bight. It was a little overcast with a momentary rain shower, but we had the beach to ourselves.
Within a few minutes we were on to our first striper. We ended up landing four stripers that morning, all very nice size. We released all the fish. If we hadn't caught another fish, the trip would still have been considered a success.
The fourth day I returned by myself to Menemsha, and again had the beach all to myself and caught four more stripers. Two hit a Hopkins and believe it or not, two hit a Roberts Hammer. This would be the last fish caught on the trip.
My wife and I went down to Lambert's Cove that evening to watch the sunset and I took my rod. Although I didn't catch a fish the sunset was marvelous.
The fifth day my son got up at 4 am to photograph the sunrise, so I was alone again and went back to the Bight. Fishing was slow.
I found myself keeping company on the beach with a local fisherman, Bill Moody of West Tisbury, a real nice guy. He was there with a few of his friends up from Florida. They were catching some fish. After finding out I was from Pittsburgh, Bill immediately took a liking to me since he and his wife are huge Steelers fans. Bill proceeded to discuss fishing technique, which is a big deal to an off-Islander like me, and showed me some of his secrets of success.
I was very grateful. He did qualify his statements with "because you are an off-Islander I'll let you in on this."
I told Bill his secrets were safe. It was a real nice time of sharing and talking fish.
The rest of the time on the Island I spent with the family, which was now all together including my daughter Renee, who is getting married next spring.
Guys like me, who plan these family trips with hopes of getting at least a few hours of fishing in a day feel so fortunate to just catch a fish. Meeting and talking to locals is a plus. I know many Vineyarders probably take what to me is considered a dream week for granted. Memories of catching fish and looking at photos sustain us for an entire year. With my daughter's wedding next year, I'll be passing on the Vineyard vacation. This past week will have to last me two years.
I spent yesterday de-salting my rods, reels and lures in the backyard. When I put them neatly back into their boxes, I knew it would be a long time until I cast that Hopkins or bounced that Sluggo.
So, the next time you catch that 50-pounder, or just a nice little schoolie, think of the guys who have to wait another year to make a cast into the crisp blue surf waters of the Vineyard. And Nelson, keep writing about it so we can continue to dream.
In a follow-up conversation I asked Ed to share his thoughts on fatherhood. He wrote, "I believe that the heart, soul and future of this great nation rests in a strong family unit ... Put God first, family and ministry will follow in line as He will extend his grace and mercy to us. This has been my code of living since my wife and I were married over 26 years ago and as you can see by the photo, it has paid off ten fold."
Photo courtesy Wilson Kerr
Catch & Release Tournament results
A total of 217 fishermen entered the 17th annual Martha's Vineyard Rod and Gun Club Fly Rod Striped Bass Catch & Release Tournament held this weekend from 7 pm Saturday to 2 am Sunday.
Not every team filed a catch report. According to the catch reports filed for the 152 fishermen who did file, they hooked and released a total of 270 striped bass, well below last year's tally of 484 striped bass.
Roberto Germani Trophy
For the most striped bass caught and released by a team. Roberto Germani, an Island character, believed strongly in the philosophy of catch and release.
1. Team Doublehaul (Eric Capulupo, Wilson Kerr, Clint Eiler, Chip Bergeron 45 fish) 11.25 average.
2. Team Capawock (Phil Cronin, Jay Cronin, Jim Herbert, Gary Hoffman, Tom Fay, 35 fish) 7 average.
3. Team Finders Keepers (David Thompson, Paul Fiedler 10 fish) 5 average.
Sonny & Joey Beaulieu Trophy
For the largest striped bass caught and released. Sony and Joey Beaulieu, father and son, died in a tragic boating accident along with Fred Loud and his son Adam.
1. Gary Mirando 64 inches total length and girth (43 and 21 inches).
Arnold Spofford Trophy
For the most fish caught and released by a team using one fly. Arnold Spofford, fly fisherman and gentleman, was a familiar face to many who fished the beaches of Martha's Vineyard.
1. Scare and Release (Jim Lepore, Ed Lepore, 13 fish), 6.5 fish average.
2. Rhody 1 (Tony DiRobbio, Ed Tatro, Jim Erhardt, Ron Cavalaro, 5 fish) 1.25 average.
3. Flock of Sigels (Tom Robinson, Nelson Sigelman, Jason Zimmer, Peter Duggan, Chris Newhall, 6 fish) 1.2 average.